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Britain's future king has used a long apprenticeship to build a charitable empire
The gardens sport a coronet of dew under a rare Scottish sun, but Prince Charles remains indoors, doing what the heir to the thrones of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Jamaica and 12 other Commonwealth realms has always done — his duty. He's teaching Prince William the key move of granting knighthoods, laying a blade on the shoulders of recipients without inflicting injury. So on Sept. 26, Charles interrupts a family visit at his Scottish residence Birkhall with his son, wife, daughter-in-law, and the youngest Windsor, baby George, to stage a rehearsal.
His grandson is "what this is all about," says Prince Charles, 64, sitting down with TIME later that day to discuss his hopes for the future. For George, third in line to the throne, that future looks secure enough. Britain's monarchy emerged from 2013's mass testing of U.K. public opinion as the only institution to gain in popularity, while others slumped.
The Prince's own popularity is questionable. Sheltered by his position and exposed by it, he appears a mass of contradictions, engaged yet aloof, indulged and deprived. Yet the strangulated diction of the uppermost crust — even members of his inner circle can't resist imitating him — disguises a real magnetism.